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Alyn Oakenfist

Robb should have attacked Tywin instead of Jaime

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So the more I think about it, Robb should have sent his whole force at Tywin at the Green Fork. Why? Well first off, let's see what the campaign goals for Robb are:

- First, he needs to get to KL and rescue Ned and the girls, keep in mind at the time of the Green Fork and Whispering Woods, Ned was still alive

- Second off, he needs/wants to remove the Lannister presence in the Riverlands.

So, Robb, in the story, sent Roose as a decoy at the Green Fork and used his cavalry to attack Jaime. Now this was incredibly risky, for a few reasons:

- Roose, without cav, had no chance of winning. Robb was betting that Roose could have a controlled loss, which to his credit, he did, but had Tywin pursued, especially with Tywin having cav and Roose having very little of it, it could have resulted in the annihilation of the Northmen infantry.

- Winning against Jaime was by no means guaranteed. Had Jaime figured out the obvious red flags that something is amiss, he could have bunkered down on the siege lines, battle of the Golden Spurs style, or he could have just retreated.

More importantly, there was very little gain for Robb even in his victory.

- Reliving Riverrun was pretty useless given how strong the castle is.

- Furthermore, attacking Jaime, left no way for him to threatened King's Landing, so the first goal of his campaign, getting there and rescuing Ned and the girls was unattainable

- Also, his second goal of removing the Lannister presence from the Riverlands also failed, as Tywin could easily retreat to Harrenhal, with the bigger of the two Lannister armies. 

- He also put himself in a very awkward position, trapped between Tywin and the Westerlands, who were protected by the Golden Tooth. Had he not lucked out with Grey Wind finding a trail, he would have been caught in a completely indefensible position.

The only real strategic gain from Whispering Woods and the Camps was capturing Jaime, which Robb had no idea would happen, and freeing Edmure, which did allow him to secure and consolidate the Riverlands.

Now let's look at the possibility of Robb attacking Tywin head on.

Now you might say this would be risky. The forces would be roughly comparable in numbers, with Tywin having the cavalry quality edge and Robb having the infantry quality advantage. Yes, it would have been a fairly equal pitched battle. But, as outlined before the plan Robb went for was equally risky, and what's more, despite his reputation, Tywin isn't that good a military leader. He allowed himself to be surprised by the Reynes, who would have won outside Tarbeck Hall, had they had even comparable numbers to him, He split his forces in the Riverlands, allowing himself to be defeated in detail, and he abandoned a good defensive position to fight at the Green Fork on equal ground.

Now, had Robb actually won at the Green Fork, he would have several tactical and strategic advantages

- First off, the geography make any army retreating towards the South get badly bottlenecked on the Ruby Ford, so with Tywin's retreat getting bottlenecked, it's very likely Robb's victory would have resulted in the annihilation of the Lannister force.

Now, with that said, let's look at the possible gains from that.

- First off, the road to King's Landing would be opened. With no army between them, Robb could have marched straight to KL and rescued Ned and the girls and mounted Joffrey's head on a pike. So the first operational objective would be met

- Second off, the biggest Lannister force in the Riverlands would get removed, as well as them inevitably losing Harrenhal afterwards, the only major stronghold the Lannisters possessed.

- Jaime's host, would at that point be in an untannable strategic position, with Robb having a bigger army, and being able to use Harrenhal to prevent any attacks, like Tywin did. Jaime would realistically have no choice but to pull back to the Westerlands. These two points would secure Robb's secondary goal of removing the Lannister presence in the Riverlands.

So, all in all, while attacking Tywin head on would have been risky, it could have brought Robb the victory in the war in a single battle. Instead, he took a similarly risky approach, that however gave him very little strategic gain. Though at the end of the day, that shouldn't have been surprising. Robb was always a master tactician with very poor strategy, while Tywin was a pretty bad tactician, with extraordinary strategy. And Sun Tzu does tell us who would come out between the two. So what do you think?

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2 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

So the more I think about it, Robb should have sent his whole force at Tywin at the Green Fork.

Tywin had more heavy cavalry, pikemen and archers than northerners and Freys. Besides average warrior of Lannisters seemed to wear plate armor when many northmen still used chainmail so chances are very high that at best Robb could have gained very expensive victory and even that would have been unlikely. After all chances that he could totally wipe out Tywin's army were minimal. Or Tywin could have saved part of his army and called some troops from Jaime's army and so Tywin could have kept Northmen reaching King's Landing.

Or Robb might have won that battle. But he would have lost so many men that his campaign would have failed anyway. Besides as long as Tywin is alive and free he could rise new armies and so replace any men he had lost during the battle. Or I assume that Robb would have lost the war anyway.

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47 minutes ago, Loose Bolt said:

After all chances that he could totally wipe out Tywin's army were minimal

As I pointed out, they weren't. Tywin couldn't flee due to the fact that the only avenue for retreat was the Ruby Ford, a natural bottleneck. Had Tywin lost at the Green Fork, his forces would have been all killed attempting to flee cross the ford.

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5 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

So what do you think?

I doubt that Robb had an advantage with the infantry quality. As per this SSM, Tywin's infantry was notoriously disciplined, and these weren't harsh winter conditions.

I also wouldn't advise marching to KL with Jaime still around. He'd probably abandon the siege and attack, so better deal with him first.

Edited by TsarGrey

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16 minutes ago, TsarGrey said:

I doubt that Robb had an advantage with the infantry quality

He had. The Northmen are the most martial of the Kingdoms, followed closely by the Stormlands. In general in history, tough climates produced hardy warriors.

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53 minutes ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

As I pointed out, they weren't. Tywin couldn't flee due to the fact that the only avenue for retreat was the Ruby Ford, a natural bottleneck. Had Tywin lost at the Green Fork, his forces would have been all killed attempting to flee cross the ford.

As long as Lannisters reach Ruby Ford first some of them would survive. In fact it is possible that Tywin had left some troops to occupy that place. Or Tywin is war veteran and so he should know how vital it is to protect his rear and supply lines against hostiles. So it is possible that Tywin would have some fresh troops and even some just made field fortifications waiting at RB.

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4 minutes ago, Loose Bolt said:

As long as Lannisters reach Ruby Ford first some of them would survive

True, but if only a few thousand survive while the rest get slaughtered it wouldn't do much good, now would it. Regardless the point is, with the Trident blocking his back, Tywin couldn't pull off a Roose style organized retreat.

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20 minutes ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

He had. The Northmen are the most martial of the Kingdoms, followed closely by the Stormlands. In general in history, tough climates produced hardy warriors.

But many of them still use mail instead of plate and use spears instead of pikes. So they should lose more men than their enemies when they engage with warriors with stronger armors and longer reach.

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24 minutes ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

He had. The Northmen are the most martial of the Kingdoms,

No. No they are not.

And yet there was sense in what they said. This host her son had assembled was not a standing army such as the Free Cities were accustomed to maintain, nor a force of guardsmen paid in coin. Most of them were smallfolk: crofters, fieldhands, fishermen, sheepherders, the sons of innkeeps and traders and tanners, leavened with a smattering of sellswords and freeriders hungry for plunder. When their lords called, they came … but not forever.

 

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1 minute ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

Tywin couldn't pull off a Roose style organized retreat.

Unless he had friendly troops with some fortifications waiting at Ruby Ford.

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Just now, Loose Bolt said:

Unless he had friendly troops with some fortifications waiting at Ruby Ford.

The problem isn't the fortifications, it's the time it takes to cross the Ford. In that time the pursuing cavalry has time to catch up and slaughter the retreating Westermen

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5 minutes ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

The problem isn't the fortifications, it's the time it takes to cross the Ford. In that time the pursuing cavalry has time to catch up and slaughter the retreating Westermen

I suspect that surviving Lannister cavalry and archers would try to slow incoming enemies. Or they should buy time for rest of their army. Naturally assuming that somebody with enough authority is still around giving those orders and army is not totally routed.

Besides how many spare horses northmen have. Or their original warhorses should be very tired. Naturally Westlanders would have same problem. But average Western cavalryman should own more horses than his poorer colleagues in the North.

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40 minutes ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

He had. The Northmen are the most martial of the Kingdoms, followed closely by the Stormlands. In general in history, tough climates produced hardy warriors.

I'm unconvinced. Ironborn have a pretty martial culture, but that doesn't necessarily translate to victory. They may have this warrior ethos and experience of the sea, but that helps them little against a hail of arrows or a pike formation or a well executed heavy cavalry charge. Even if we, for the sake of the argument, accept that they are more courageous and could hold out longer, they still break and they still die.

ASoS Jon V.

"Ygritte," he said in a low voice, "Mance cannot win this war."

"He can!" she insisted. "You know nothing, Jon Snow. You have never seen the free folk fight!"

Wildlings fought like heroes or demons, depending on who you talked to, but it came down to the same thing in the end. They fight with reckless courage, every man out for glory. "I don't doubt that you're all very brave, but when it comes to battle, discipline beats valor every time. In the end Mance will fail as all the Kings-beyond-the-Wall have failed before him. And when he does, you'll die. All of you."

AGoT Arya IV.

Inside were more bodies; a groom she had played with, and three of her father's household guard. A wagon, laden with crates and chests, stood abandoned near the door of the stable. The dead men must have been loading it for the trip to the docks when they were attacked. Arya snuck closer. One of the corpses was Desmond, who'd shown her his longsword and promised to protect her father. He lay on his back, staring blindly at the ceiling as flies crawled across his eyes. Close to him was a dead man in the red cloak and lion-crest helm of the Lannisters. Only one, though. Every northerner is worth ten of these southron swords, Desmond had told her. "You liar!" she said, kicking his body in a sudden fury.

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7 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

 had Tywin pursued, especially with Tywin having cav and Roose having very little of it, it could have resulted in the annihilation of the Northmen infantry.

Tywin is a ruthless veteran general. If there had been the possibility to annihilate the Northern army without significant costs, he would have taken it.

7 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

- Winning against Jaime was by no means guaranteed.

Of course not, but Robb had to take a chance. Attacking Jaime was a much safer bet, because he was rash, inexperienced as a commander, and besieging Riverrun forced him to divide his forces in three parts.

Robb was a 16 year old that had never led armies before. He absolutely need to win his first battles, or his men would lose confidence in him. Attacking the enemy that he had bigger chances of defeating was a very sensible decision.

7 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

More importantly, there was very little gain for Robb even in his victory.

- Reliving Riverrun was pretty useless given how strong the castle is.

This is where you assessment is most mistaken, IMO. Riverrun had an enormous strategical importance. Rising it's siege freed the leadership of the Riverlands (Hoster, Edmure, Tytos...) and brought the riverlords to your cause. If the Lannisters had taken the castle, it would have been a huge moral blow and it would have freed Jaime's army.

7 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

- Furthermore, attacking Jaime, left no way for him to threatened King's Landing, so the first goal of his campaign, getting there and rescuing Ned and the girls was unattainable

Not true. After freeing Riverrun and defeating Jaime's army, a combined Northern and Riverlands army had more options to threaten KL than a Northern army alone. Not to mention that if Ned had been alive, trading him for Jaime would have been a very feasible prospect.

7 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

- He also put himself in a very awkward position, trapped between Tywin and the Westerlands, who were protected by the Golden Tooth. Had he not lucked out with Grey Wind finding a trail, he would have been caught in a completely indefensible position.

It's the same position in which Edmure gave the Lannisters a scolding in the Battle of the Fords..

7 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

Now you might say this would be risky. The forces would be roughly comparable in numbers, with Tywin having the cavalry quality edge and Robb having the infantry quality advantage. Yes, it would have been a fairly equal pitched battle. But, as outlined before the plan Robb went for was equally risky.

It was not. Robb had much greater chances of winning against Jaime's army than Tywin's. Jaime was less experienced, had his forces divided, and to deal with the defenders of Riverrun.

7 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

- First off, the road to King's Landing would be opened. With no army between them, Robb could have marched straight to KL and rescued Ned and the girls and mounted Joffrey's head on a pike. So the first operational objective would be met

- Second off, the biggest Lannister force in the Riverlands would get removed

You seem to assume under the assumption that the losing army on a battle is annihilated. It never worked that way. In medieval battles, the average number of casualties on the losing side amounted to about 5% of the soldiers. When it was a really severe defeat, they could rise to a 10% or so.

So, if against all odds Robb had defeated Tywin's army at the Green Fork, then Tywin would have made a more or less orderly defeat to Harrenhal and would have entrenched himself there. There's no realistic scenario in which Tywin's army suddenly ceases to exist and Robb has a free uncontested pass towards King's Landing.

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1 minute ago, The hairy bear said:

This is where you assessment is most mistaken, IMO. Riverrun had an enormous strategical importance. Rising it's siege freed the leadership of the Riverlands (Hoster, Edmure, Tytos...) and brought the riverlords to your cause. If the Lannisters had taken the castle, it would have been a huge moral blow and it would have freed Jaime's army.

You missed what I'm saying. I agree with the importance of Riverrun, but the castle is nigh impregnable, it could have held out for a year easily, thus Hoster and Tytos would have been fine. Edmure not so much, but losing him was actually a potential advantage, as if he were to die, Cat (and later Robb or Bran) would be the heir to the Riverlands.

3 minutes ago, The hairy bear said:

It's the same position in which Edmure gave the Lannisters a scolding in the Battle of the Fords..

It's definitely not the same position. Edmure had his back clear, Robb would not have, because Stafford Lannister would be a thing. Again, had Robb not lucked out with the trail and Grey Wind, which he had no means of predicting, he would be toast.

4 minutes ago, The hairy bear said:

It was not. Robb had much greater chances of winning against Jaime's army than Tywin's. Jaime was less experienced, had his forces divided, and to deal with the defenders of Riverrun.

Yes, but Robb had a much smaller force that what he would have brought on Tywin. Furthermore his victory relied on getting the element of surprise at Whispering Woods and on Jaime not smelling a rat when all his scouts mysteriously disappeared.

6 minutes ago, The hairy bear said:

You seem to assume under the assumption that the losing army on a battle is annihilated. It never worked that way. In medieval battles, the average number of casualties on the losing side amounted to about 5% of the soldiers. When it was a really severe defeat, they could rise to a 10% or so.

Read the part about the Ruby Ford. The Ford would have ensured that Tywin's force would be anihilated.

Also, look at the camps and at Oxford in this world.

7 minutes ago, The hairy bear said:

So, if against all odds Robb had defeated Tywin's army at the Green Fork, then Tywin would have made a more or less orderly defeat to Harrenhal and would have entrenched himself there. There's no realistic scenario in which Tywin's army suddenly ceases to exist and Robb has a free uncontested pass towards King's Landing.

And in the full day it would take Tywin to cross the Ford I'm sure Robb will sit around and not pound his army while it's back is against the River. Also all this is under the presumption Tywin lives.

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8 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

So the more I think about it, Robb should have sent his whole force at Tywin at the Green Fork. Why? Well first off, let's see what the campaign goals for Robb are:

- First, he needs to get to KL and rescue Ned and the girls, keep in mind at the time of the Green Fork and Whispering Woods, Ned was still alive

- Second off, he needs/wants to remove the Lannister presence in the Riverlands.

So, Robb, in the story, sent Roose as a decoy at the Green Fork and used his cavalry to attack Jaime. Now this was incredibly risky, for a few reasons:

- Roose, without cav, had no chance of winning. Robb was betting that Roose could have a controlled loss, which to his credit, he did, but had Tywin pursued, especially with Tywin having cav and Roose having very little of it, it could have resulted in the annihilation of the Northmen infantry.

- Winning against Jaime was by no means guaranteed. Had Jaime figured out the obvious red flags that something is amiss, he could have bunkered down on the siege lines, battle of the Golden Spurs style, or he could have just retreated.

More importantly, there was very little gain for Robb even in his victory.

- Reliving Riverrun was pretty useless given how strong the castle is.

- Furthermore, attacking Jaime, left no way for him to threatened King's Landing, so the first goal of his campaign, getting there and rescuing Ned and the girls was unattainable

- Also, his second goal of removing the Lannister presence from the Riverlands also failed, as Tywin could easily retreat to Harrenhal, with the bigger of the two Lannister armies. 

- He also put himself in a very awkward position, trapped between Tywin and the Westerlands, who were protected by the Golden Tooth. Had he not lucked out with Grey Wind finding a trail, he would have been caught in a completely indefensible position.

The only real strategic gain from Whispering Woods and the Camps was capturing Jaime, which Robb had no idea would happen, and freeing Edmure, which did allow him to secure and consolidate the Riverlands.

Now let's look at the possibility of Robb attacking Tywin head on.

Now you might say this would be risky. The forces would be roughly comparable in numbers, with Tywin having the cavalry quality edge and Robb having the infantry quality advantage. Yes, it would have been a fairly equal pitched battle. But, as outlined before the plan Robb went for was equally risky, and what's more, despite his reputation, Tywin isn't that good a military leader. He allowed himself to be surprised by the Reynes, who would have won outside Tarbeck Hall, had they had even comparable numbers to him, He split his forces in the Riverlands, allowing himself to be defeated in detail, and he abandoned a good defensive position to fight at the Green Fork on equal ground.

Now, had Robb actually won at the Green Fork, he would have several tactical and strategic advantages

- First off, the geography make any army retreating towards the South get badly bottlenecked on the Ruby Ford, so with Tywin's retreat getting bottlenecked, it's very likely Robb's victory would have resulted in the annihilation of the Lannister force.

Now, with that said, let's look at the possible gains from that.

- First off, the road to King's Landing would be opened. With no army between them, Robb could have marched straight to KL and rescued Ned and the girls and mounted Joffrey's head on a pike. So the first operational objective would be met

- Second off, the biggest Lannister force in the Riverlands would get removed, as well as them inevitably losing Harrenhal afterwards, the only major stronghold the Lannisters possessed.

- Jaime's host, would at that point be in an untannable strategic position, with Robb having a bigger army, and being able to use Harrenhal to prevent any attacks, like Tywin did. Jaime would realistically have no choice but to pull back to the Westerlands. These two points would secure Robb's secondary goal of removing the Lannister presence in the Riverlands.

So, all in all, while attacking Tywin head on would have been risky, it could have brought Robb the victory in the war in a single battle. Instead, he took a similarly risky approach, that however gave him very little strategic gain. Though at the end of the day, that shouldn't have been surprising. Robb was always a master tactician with very poor strategy, while Tywin was a pretty bad tactician, with extraordinary strategy. And Sun Tzu does tell us who would come out between the two. So what do you think?

As Cat said, Robb rolled the dice. If Jaime had learned of Robb's movement toward Riverrun the whole plan would have gone tits up. But knowing that Jaime would have separated his army into thirds and counting on the fact that the Blackfish could hide their movements until the moment of attack, it was a safer bet that Robb's horse could dispatch two thirds of Jaime's army while they slept. And if their cover was blown, they could always retreat back to the Twins.

Marching the whole lot down the kingsroad, however, guarantees a confrontation with Tywin, who has a larger army, more heavy horse and will know full well they are coming. And even if he wins, Robb will have a diminished army with yet another Lannister host at his back.

So given that Jaime had the smaller army to begin with and it was separated in thirds, the safer bet was to take him out first:

Quote

". . . look, if we try to swing around Lord Tywin's host, we take the risk of being caught between him and the Kingslayer, and if we attack him . . . by all reports, he has more men than I do, and a lot more armored horse. The Greatjon says that won't matter if we catch him with his breeches down, but it seems to me that a man who has fought as many battles as Tywin Lannister won't be so easily surprised."

...

"I'd leave a small force here to hold Moat Caillen, archers mostly, and march the rest down the causeway, but once we're below the Neck, I'd split our host in two. The foot can continue down the kingsroad, while our horsemen cross the Green Fork at the Twins. When Lord Tywin gets word that we've come south, he'll march north to engage our main host, leaving our riders free to hurry down the west bank to Riverrun."

"You'd put a river between the two parts of your army?"

"And between Jaime and Lord Tywin."

 

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56 minutes ago, John Suburbs said:

So given that Jaime had the smaller army to begin with and it was separated in thirds, the safer bet was to take him out first:

 

I agree, but as I pointed, while the risk with Tywin was greater, the possible rewards were much larger

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3 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:
 

I agree, but as I pointed, while the risk with Tywin was greater, the possible rewards were much larger

That goes without saying but YOLOing it on one battle is not a particularly sound basis for a campaign when your forces are more or less even.

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It should also be said it's highly unlikely Robb submits to Walder's demands if he doesn't plan on using the Twins to cross. So he wouldn't have the Frey troops in that battle.

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